The Fragmented Universal Church

Influence of Culture on Institutional Church

Download the accompanying handout attached above as it will help you navigate through this maze of a broken church.  (Sorry about the double start!!!  I’ll fix it later 🙂


fragmentation

Not a pretty picture is it?  No.  And neither is the fragmentation of the Universal Church.

Currently there are (about) 21,000 different “brands” of Christian churches!

“How can that be?”

“What do they each teach that enables their continued, distinctive institutional existence?”

“Is each church’s institutional identify more important than the unity they find in a common G/d?”

These questions are addressed by the video.

May you all have a Blessed Thanksgiving!

Remember…G/d blesses you!

 

Imago Dei: Human Creaturely Difference(?)

 

Download Study Guide below

Chapter 3 Creaturely Difference

 

imago deiChapter 3 of David Clough’s book, On Animals is titled:  “Creaturely Difference”.   It would have been better if he had placed a “?” behind that chapter title, for that is the discussion raised here.  “Is there a distinct characteristic within humanity that separates humanity from all other animals?”  And is that distinctly human characteristic identified by the Hebrew Scriptures as the “Imago Dei” ( the image of G/d)?”

Please download the study guide so we can find out.  Your comments and insights are encouraged and welcomed!  Enjoy the video which comes to you in 2 parts!

Remember…G/d bless you!

 

 

 

 

Piety in the CWW

The word piety comes to us from Roman culture (Latin: Pietas).  Pietas was a virtue celebrated among the Romans which connoted “dutiful conduct” (especially) toward one’s parents, children and relatives.  The word describes conduct expected of “blood-related” people.

In the we are family (2)Major Legend of Saint Francis, the word piety is used to describe St. Francis’ relationship to the family of creation.  St. Francis came to realize his “family” relatedness to everything, including the tiny creatures of creation.  To live in the family of creation, as Francis did, requires a sense of respect, appreciation for diversity and a willingness to share. It means being less self-centered (“its all about me”) as one comes into the humbling realization that our very existence depends on the creatures around us.  The notion of cortesia or deferential behavior characterized Francis’ respect for creation.

St. Francis piety arose out of an inner love by which the whole creation and the source of creation were united in a continual, gracious, cycle of life.  Piety in the CWW is formulated in response to the needs of the family of life.

 

Canticle of the Sun

Most High, all-powerful, good Lord,all praise is yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing.
To you, alone, Most High, do they belong.No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your name.
All praise be yours, my Lord,through all you have made,and first my lord Brother Sun, who brings the day;and through whom you give us light.How beautiful is he, how radiant in all his splendor;Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.All Praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars; in the heavens you have made them,bright, and precious, and fair.All praise be yours, my Lord,through Brothers wind and air, and fair and stormy,all the weather’s moods,by which you cherish all that you have made.All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Water,so useful, humble, precious and pure.All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brother Fire,through whom you brighten up the night.How beautiful is he, how cheerful!Full of power and strength.All praise be yours, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth, who sustains us and governs us,and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.All praise be yours, my Lord,through those who grant pardon for love of you;through those who endure sickness and trial.Happy are those who endure in peace,By You, Most High, they will be crowned.All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Death,From whose embrace no mortal can escape.Woe to those who die in mortal sin!Happy those she finds doing your will!The second death can do them no harm.Praise and bless my Lord, and give him thanks 
And serve him with great humility.

Shared Ancestry, Shared Destiny

 

Chapter 2 On Animals  “The Place of Animals”

This week we are discussing the “place of animals” in the created order.  Our source for discerning the place of animals will be the Hebrew Scriptures (a.k.a. The Old Testament of the Bible).  A consideration of the The Hebrew Scriptures will help us place the animal animals into fresh, G/d given perspectives, rather than bias, anthropomorphic views  perpetuated by orthodox theologians.

Please download the attached handouts for my lecture on this chapter below and use them as a guide to the video (above).

Remember…G/d blesses you!

every creature praise his name

Chapter 2 The Place of Animals

Reforming the Church

Most of you are busy getting ready for Halloween.  Enjoy and be safe!  The CWW is readying itself to celebrate something that most dramatically took place 500 years ago in a little church in Wittenberg, Germany.  The event is called the Protestant Reformation.

The spirit of the Reformation was simply that…”the church (and every other institution!) of Christ in every age, beset by change but Spirit led, must claim and test its heritage and keep on rising from the dead” (text F. Pratt Green, tune, William Knapp).

To help you celebrate this revival of the church and keep its Spirit alive in us, I’m posting a couple of videos.  Hope you enjoy them!  Catch the Spirit.

Remember…God blesses you!

 

 

The CWW “Ask the Birds of the Air and They Will Tell You…”

From the Hebrew Scriptures

Job 12:7 ”But ask the animals, and they will teach you;
the birds of the air, and they will tell you;

https://www.youtube.com/attribution_link?a=2TvveD79Ayep6t4f&u=/watch%3Fv%3DWfy_5X5M8TA%26feature%3Dem-upload_owner

We had an amazing “fly over” at the CWW today.  It lasted much longer than the short video above.  There were many flocks of geese that flew overhead, heading south.  It is an awesome experience to hear them “honk” and to see them fly with such precision, in such disciplined formation.

As I watched them, I wondered what they had to offer our gathering.  And this is what I found.

Lesson #1.  When geese fly as a flock, they always fly in a ”V” formation.  Here is why.  As each goose flaps its wings, it creates “lift” for the bird behind it.  By flying in a “V” formation, the flock adds 71% more flying range with the same amount of energy spent.

People who benefit from the support of others, get where they are going quicker and easier than when they travel alone. We all know there is nothing more demoralizing, nothing which saps the energy from us more quickly, than being alone. So the old adage goes “Birds of a feather, flock together”.  It is important we that travel together when we feel alone.

Lesson #2When a goose falls out of formation, the drag and resistance increase and their energy supply, decreases. If you are experiencing innocent suffering, as the fable of a man named Job did, now is not the time to fly alone. Get back into a spiritual formation that takes advantage of the uplifting power of others who accompany you

Lesson #3When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back into the formation and another goose takes its place at the point position. We can’t always lead; we must also learn how to follow, especially when our physical and spiritual resources are exacerbated.

Lesson #4Geese never fly silent. They use the constant honking as a way to encourage the birds in front of them to keep going; they remind the birds in front of them that they are still there, supporting them. There is nothing more demoralizing than silence. Have you ever tried to lead a group who just sits there?  It can’t be done.  It is so important that we take time to “honk” to each other words of encouragement, appreciation, and support. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said:  In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. If someone is tired and feeling alone, it is not the time to be silent.

Lesson #5When a goose gets sick or wounded or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow their member down to help provide protection.  They stay with this member of the flock until he/she is able to fly again or dies.  Only then do they leave to join another formation, or to rejoin their own flock.

The geese teach us that nothing good happens when people fall out of formation, and attempt to go it alone in life.  Pray today that people of faith will be gathered into one formation, that flies by the lessons the geese teach us from above.

Remember…G/d blesses you.

 

 

The CWW

 

Here is a picture (left) of the CWW (Church Without Walls).  The picture is taken on October 16, 2017, the day of the publication of this first epistle.  I will take a picture of this church each time we visit it.  The image of it is bound to change as the days go by…but that’s OK.  It is part of its eternal character. No matter what the CWW (Church Without Walls) looks like, it will be the place where G/d meets us.

 

To the right of today’s picture of the CWW is its first member.  She is a Snoodle by the name of Zoey.  Neither of those “tags” (by which we identify her) matter, because she doesn’t identify her “self” with them.  She is a loving animal (Uhh!  Another tag!!!) and she doesn’t mind that we call her names.

 

Zoey is an important member of the CWW, because she represents a part of the group the Creator gathers, to care for, and ultimately to bring into the world to come. She will also help keep us on topic: universal salvation, hope or heresy.

What are the fundamental concepts that gather and form this CWW?  Among them are these:

  1. “This is right and is acceptable in the sight of G/d our Savior, 4who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”. (Comes from Christian Scriptures, 1 Timothy 2:3-4 for those identify as Christians).  The CWW shares G/d’s desire.

 

  1. “Everyone”, the subject of G/d’s desired intention to save and to come to the knowledge of the truth”, includes all life .
    • The Hebrew Scriptures (named the “Old Testament” by Christians and other religious groups) make no distinction between the life force that animates animal life and the life force that animates human life. The distinction(s) that places eternal value on human life and mere utilitarian value on animal life, come from the ethics of Hellenistic philosophy.  Hellenists make a primary distinction between animal animals and  human animals, in what they call “the immortal soul”.  The Hellenists assign an immortal soul to human animals, believing that this immortal soul is alive before birth and after death, but not to animal animals. They do not believe that humans die. Hebrews do.

3.  The CWW subscribes to the teachings of the Hebrews (so called Old Testament) Scriptures (see below), not Hellenistic philosophy. The Hebrew Scriptures call the energy force that bring earthen matter (the ground) to life:  “the breath of life” According to Hebrew teaching, the breath of life force gives and sustains life.  When the “breath of life” is present, there is life, when it is absent, there is death.

Those who subscribe to this Hebrew perspective Scripture on life and death therefore recite it at most sacred moments: 1. at the interment of their dead loved ones: “earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust” and 2. (Christians), at the beginning of the season of Lent as an ashen cross is traced on their foreheads:  “remember you are dust and to dust you will return”.  These Hebrew Scriptures inform the CWW’s view of life and death.

Genesis 3:19 19By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Genesis 1.30 …and to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.

Genesis 2.7 then the Lord GOD formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man (from the earth) became a living being.

  1. G/d has set a plan to redeem all life from death.

John 3:16-17 (Christian New Testament) 6For God so loved the cosmos (Greek word) that G/d gave G/d’s only Son, so that everyone who believes (this)may not perish but may have eternal life.17Indeed, G/d did not send the Son into the cosmos to condemn the cosmos, but in order that the cosmos might be saved through him.

Remember…G/d blesses you!

 

Creation: All About Us?

pastor koth (2)

Our conversation October 11th, will center on the question of whether human animals are G/d’s sole or primary purpose in creation, or whether the creation exists for its own purposes which provide it value, apart from serving the needs of humanity.

It is not difficult to find Christian theologians who are convinced that human beings are at the center of all things (after all, they are humans!).  It is harder, however, to find good theological argument in defense of that view.

There are two (many more actually) distinct views of creation.  One can be summarized as being “Hellenistic” (Plato, Philo, etc), and the other being classically Hebrew (Old Testament view).  The Hellenistic view captures the “it is all about us” voice; the Hebrew view, “it is all about life…”

What ever your view, it is important that you realize who gave it to you.  Our October 11th study will help identify your teachers and hopefully stimulate some thought as to whether or not you want to keep them.

Click on the link below for the lecture handout.  all about us

Chapter 1 The End of Creation